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Brisk voting by Muslims in Chandni Chowk despite fast, heat

In spite of the intense heat and day-long fasts observed during the ongoing holy month of Ramzan, a huge number of Muslims came out in Delhi's Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency to exercise their franchise on Sunday.

Ramzan, when Muslims observe a total fast, coincided with the polling in Delhi but did not seem to deter voters in the Chandni Chowk area of the old city, save in the early hours. However, as the day progressed, people came out to cast their votes and numbers started increasing in the evening.

Around 20 per cent of people living in the area are Muslims.

Mohammad Sajjad, who came with his family to vote during the day time, said that he could not exercise his right earlier as he had slept early in the morning after 'Sehri' (the meal prior to the fast) and the morning namaaz.

As it was Sunday, he said he had decided to vote later.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Afzal Ahmad told IANS that during Ramzan, "most of the people wake up for sehri, offer prayers, and go back to sleep again. This changes their routine. So less people have turned up to vote in the morning as they must be sleeping now".

He said that surge in the voting percentage was felt in the daytime as most of the Muslims came out then.

Workers of other political parties in the area also echoed this view and expressed hope that voting numbers will rise further in the evening.

Mohammad Islam, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, told IANS that in the morning, they have witnessed a lesser number of Muslim voters.

Chandni Chowk is one of the major markets in the city but it wore deserted look on Sunday, when it remains closed.

As the polling day fell of a Sunday, this could also account for the lesser numbers, said Mohammad Asif, a trader in Meena Bazar near the Jama Masjid.

"In addition to being Ramzan, today is Sunday, which a weekly-off for many. On Sunday, people here prefer to sleep late till noon," Asif told IANS.

"However, I am quite hopeful that there will a rise in number of voting percentage at the end of the day."

However, Asif and Mohammad Firoz, who works in a garage, were among those who did not go back to sleep after Sehri prayers, and went to vote.

"We would have woken up early anyway as we have our work commitments," Asif said.

Maqood and Islam, who are auto-drivers, said that they have to earn their livelihood, so both cast their vote in the morning before starting to ply their vehicles in search of passengers.

Mohammad Aneesh, who ran a ration shop in Chandni Chowk, however, said he and his family had decided to vote latter.

"This is one of the major festivals of this country where we decide our top leadership. I have prayed to God to bestow peace upon this country where people can live in harmony."

(Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be reached at amiya.k@ians.in)

--IANS

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